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Tulane Stadium construction

captureTulane’s proposed Uptown football stadium has some opponents: mainly the people who live in the Uptown neighborhood where the stadium is to be built.

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News with a Twist

Tulane’s new football stadium is good news for New Orleans

I took a drive down Ben Weiner drive Yesterday.  Ben Weiner drive is the street that runs through Tulane’s campus by the athletic facilities, in between Willow and Claiborne.  It’s the home of Tulane’s famous Sports Medicine Facility; the new, state-of-the-art Hertz practice facility; the Wilson athletic building; and the $15 million Turchin Baseball Stadium.

Soon, it’ll also be home to Tulane’s new football stadium. It was quite a sight driving a little north past the old Tulane stadium site and seeing the new stadium coming out of the ground.

College football once again to be played on campus at Tulane. It’s been nearly 40 years since the Wave’s done that. I have to admit I got a little giddy yesterday as I passed the construction. Happy for Tulane University but also happy for the city of New Orleans.

Major cities in America have major universities.  And many have Division 1 football programs playing in those cities.  And even with major NFL teams playing at major NFL stadiums, many of these college programs have their own stadium.  Now Tulane and the city of New Orleans are no different.

The Superdome, with its 1/3 billion dollars in re-do since Katrina, and now Benson field at Yulman Stadium on Tulane’s campus: a $60+ million masterpiece that opens next fall and is already a success.  Season ticket sales have increased dramatically for next year and almost 90% of the expensive Glazer Club seats have sold.

So, go take a drive down Ben Weiner drive and be prepared to be amazed.  Tulane’s new stadium is coming out of the ground and it’s great news for Tulane and great news for the city.

News with a Twist

It’s a great time to be a sports fan in New Orleans

Two major sports facilities are coming out of the ground in metro New Orleans that are game changers. Construction is fully underway in uptown on Tulane’s campus and out in Metairie at the Saints training facility.

The Green Wave has started building their own on-campus football stadium.  The $60 million project will bring college football back to uptown for the first time since 1974.  Saints owner Tom Benson contributed over $7 million to the Tulane Stadium project.

Speaking of Benson, his campus off Airline Drive is seeing some major construction as well.  Benson’s other major pro team, the NBA Pelicans, is building a brand new state-of-the-art practice facility directly behind the Saints’ digs.  The $15 million+ building will house all the teams offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, training rooms, and of course, basketball courts.  No more trips to the Alario Center on the Westbank.  The Pelicans finally have a facility they can call their own.

The construction of over $75 million of new facilities for Tulane football and Pelicans basketball will help propel these teams.  The new Tulane football stadium will help immensely in recruiting and bring the Green Wave back to respectability and possibly beyond.  And the new Pelicans’ facility will help this team be competitive, lure in free agents, and possibly, one day, even compete for a championship.  It really is a great time to be a sports fan in New Orleans.

captureConcerned neighbors heard updated plans for a new Uptown football stadium.

Tulane University leaders hosted a fourth community forum on campus Monday night.

Among the design changes are a reduced height of the exterior wall in the west edge.

The exterior wall will also be built further away from the property line.

The storm water management system has been refined.

Architects presented an animation that demonstrated how the stadium would be built in phases.

captureThe New Orleans City Council has dropped plans to create an interim zoning district, or IZD.

The IZD would have made it harder for Tulane to build their 30,000-seat on-campus stadium.

Some Uptown neighbors who supported the creation of the IZD felt it was their only way to have some say in the construction project.

Tulane has hosted meetings to answer questions about their concerns.

The university says more will be planned in the future.

captureNeighbors worried about Tulane’s plans to build a 30,000 seat stadium got another chance to voice their concerns Wednesday.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry plans to ask city leaders to withdraw an interim zoning resolution passed in May that would have blocked stadium construction.

Wednesday’s meeting updates the public about future stadium planning, game day operations and tailgating.

Neighbors broke off into small groups to brainstorm stadium issue they’re still unclear about.

Tulane and the city say they’ll continue to work with neighbors toward an enforceable agreement.

Withdrawing the interim zoning district resolution is the first item on Thursday’s city council agenda.

Tulane’s president says there will be more community meetings.

captureAs we speak, a few hundred folks are at the Audubon Park Tea Room on Magazine Street discussing the proposed Tulane on-campus stadium.

Uptown folks are a different lot.  Like most New Orleanians, they appear opposed to change.   The Uptown folks, at least the vocal ones, have expressed their displeasure on a number of projects in and around Uptown New Orleans.

Former councilman Jay Batt literally lost his re-election campaign because he allowed Stuart Hall school to expand and allowed 80-year-old Bruno’s Bar to build across the street from their original location.  Those two acts cost Batt his council job.

The Uptown Wal-Mart was opposed by many in the neighborhood.  The Uptown crowd also was opposed to the new Audubon golf course and the golf clubhouse.   They didn’t want the Whole Foods grocery in the old bus barn on Magazine Street and they definitely don’t like the new pilates studio across the street. Walgreen’s wants to build a small location a few blocks down Magazine and that, too, is receiving lots of opposition.

So it’s no surprise those certain cooks in uptown are opposed to a new on-campus Tulane stadium, which by the way is 100% within the zoning laws of New Orleans.

The funny thing is these folks are some of the cities most affluent and educated. Why don’t they start acting that way? Change is the one thing in life that is inevitable. In New Orleans, especially in Uptown New Orleans, they’ll fight that change until the bitter end.


First big win for new Tulane stadium

captureThe new football stadium for Tulane University is still in the planning stages, but it already saw its first big win.

By a vote of 7-1 Tuesday evening, the New Orleans City Planning Commission voted down a council request to create an interim zoning district that would have added a new layer of approval for the new stadium.

Neighbors saw the creation of the IZD as their best hope to have some say in the process. They have a long list of concerns that include traffic, noise, parking, and flooding.

Tulane University saw the proposed IZD as just another layer of red tape that could put in jeopardy the time line for construction and the collection of donations.

“We’re pleased by the outcome today,” Tulane president Scott Cowan said after leaving the council chambers Tuesday evening.

Neighbors say, without the IZD, Tulane will be able to build the stadium anyway it pleases. The current plan calls for walls as high as 48 feet to be build as close as 20 feet to some private property lines.

Cowan says Tulane is working with neighbors to make any possible adjustments for the 30,000 seat stadium. As an example, he says the 48 foot walls were originally going to be 55 feet.

Cowan says Tulane will continue to keep a dialogue going with neighbors who live around the footprint of the new stadium.

“Conversations are going to continue. We have two more forums coming up. One next week and then we have one in July.”

Many members of the City Planning Commission called the IZD an example of spot zoning. They say it sends a bad message to other businesses and organizations that might consider making big investments in the city.

At least one member of the business community also told the commission that a new stadium would pump money into the local economy and the city’s coffers.

Ground breaking could come early next year.

News with a Twist

It wasn’t a good day for Tulane University

captureThe New Orleans city council voted Thursday to form an interim zoning district that would prohibit Tulane University from building their new on-campus football stadium. The $60 million stadium, scheduled for completion in time for the 2014 football season, is now on hold indefinitely.

Before yesterday’s vote, Tulane had the green light to build their stadium. Now the project is at full stop!  And the reason? Because a few dozen affluent, influential uptown homeowners simply do not want the stadium built by their homes.

More specifically, they don’t want New Orleans’ mostly black public schools coming to their neighborhood to play high school games.

Council person Susan Guidry knows this and still went forward with this ill-conceived “interim zoning district.”

Mayor Mitch Landreiu has said he’ll veto the measure. Let’s hope he does. Because in 2012, post-Katrina New Orleans, we don’t have time anymore for the needs of the few, outweighing the needs of the many.   Especially when the few are wrong.

CapturePlans to build a stadium at Tulane University hit a major bump in the road. Today city council members approved a motion that could slow that could delay the project.

The motion to create an interim zoning district passed in a 4-2 vote during Thursday’s city council meeting. Now plans for the controversial Tulane University Stadium will first have to go through the city planning committee, a public hearing, and then back to council before the university can break ground.

“It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory, it’s anti-development and it has unintended consequences that people hadn’t thought about,” Tulane University President Scott Cowen said.

The sports complex that is currently in the design phase includes 30-thousand seats on campus; where the practice field is currently located. The I.Z.D. was proposed because neighbors near the university have voiced opposition. Now that the motion has passed, a thorough study will be conducted about how the stadium will impact the neighborhood.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions and now is a good time to put a study in because it will be a number of months before they’re ready to begin construction, early next year actually,” Coucilwoman Susan Guidry said.

Guidry says the I.Z.D. has university and college construction requirements that mirror the new comprehensive zoning ordinance that’s currently being drafted.

“So this is the future, we’re just asking for it to come up a little sooner because the stadium is such a large project that will have a large impact,” Guidry said.

“Right now we should be following current law. There’s no excuse to circumvent current law and right now that project can be built on our campus without a variance,” Cowen said.

Neighbors who support the project think the I.Z.D is nothing more than red tape to delay the stadium project. Guidry says that is not so.

“My plan is simply to make sure that the design and the parking and traffic all that is studied carefully and is done in such a way it has the least amount of impact on the neighborhood,” Guidry said.

University leaders say they are committed to the project and will continue with stadium plans. Council members say they will do everything possible to make sure the interim zoning district process does not delay the project.